Dark horses to watch as district wrestling gets started

The start of the postseason offers a new lease on life for high school wrestlers who haven’t been able to break into their teams’ dual-meet lineups during the regular season.

Since each school is allowed to place two wrestlers in each weight class for the sub-regionals, athletes who were either blocked by standouts, wrestled up or down a weight class to fit into the lineup or battled injuries during the regular season are able to compete.

It’s rare, but not unheard of, for a wrestler to make his or her “varsity” debut in the sub-regional tournament.

Here are four area wrestlers who, despite not being household names, could very well find themselves in Tacoma in two weeks for Mat Classic.

Jeff Roullier, jr., 285 Marysville Pilchuck

Wrestlers in the 285-pound weight class are at a distinct disadvantage.

Whereas most other wrestlers can slide up or down a weight class to get into a dual-meet lineup, the heavyweights don’t have any room to maneuver.

A state alternate as a sophomore in 2017, Roullier has made the most of his opportunities despite wrestling behind teammate Joe Lawrence (ranked seventh in 3A at 285 by Washington Wrestling Report).

Ranked 12th in the state in his own right, Roullier finished tied for fifth at the Graham Morin Invitational, despite getting pinned by Lawrence in a consolation semifinal. Lawrence and Roullier also met in the finals of the MP Premier Tournament in their home gym, and the result was the same, but don’t be surprised to see both the Tomahawks’ big men in Tacoma.

“It takes a lot of maturity to be in the situation that Jeff’s in and he’s handled it really professionally,” Marysville Pilchuck coach Craig Iversen said.

Levi Wiseman, jr., 170 Arlington

Wiseman has spent the majority of the dual-meet season out of position, so to speak, for the Eagles. To get him and fellow 170-pounder (and Panther Classic champion) Kristian Fairbanks in the lineup, Arlington coach Jonny Gilbertson has slotted Wiseman in at 182, and even 195 on occasion.

Fairbanks and Wiseman are ranked 10th and 11th respectively in 3A at 170 pounds.

“This is Levi’s first year wrestling competitively in a few years, but he’s fared really well,” Gilbertson said. “He’s got good natural instincts and he’s put together a really strong second half of the season. I think his strength, speed and determination will play really well at 170 pounds.”

Emmanuel Boakye-Ansah, Soph., 113, Edmonds-Woodway

Blocked at 113 pounds by Baylor Denkinger and at 120 by Ousman Fatty on a typically deep Warriors squad, Boakye-Ansah has had success in the challenging schedule Brian Alfi’s squad wrestled this regular season. He won matches at the Rose City Championship, Brian Hill Tournament and won his opening bout at the prestigious Gut Check tourney.

Hayden Jones, jr., 145 Lake Stevens

Jones opened more than a few eyes by reaching the finals of the Matman Classic on Jan. 13, beating Tahoma’s Jacob Vanderwaal in the semifinals.

His run ended at the hands of Enumclaw’s Quinton Southcott, a returning state placer from last season, but the stars could be aligning for Jones. The Vikings will need all the help they can get as they chase a 12th team title at Mat Classic.

“Hayden has been wrestling for a long time and puts a ton of work in,” Lake Stevens coach Brent Barnes said. “It’s just starting to come together for him and he is also at the right weight class.”

Honorable mention: Ryan Douglas, Snohomish, 195; Xavier Wilkening-Joly, Jackson, 145; Barrett Stengele, Kamiak, 145; Jody Notoa, Mariner, 285; Dorian Tollenaar, Arlington, 106.

Brian Adamowsky, Herald writer

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